Wednesday, 29 September 2010

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

What the Dickens is he talking about, I hear you say. Let me explain...

Monday was just the best. 250 miles of excellent road, starting with the “Avenue of the Giants” and ending at Bogeda Bay, where Hitchcock filmed The Birds.

100 metre high Redwood
The “Avenue of the Giants” is a stretch of winding road through redwood territory. With groves and nature trails to stop off and explore it took me 3 hours to cover the 30 miles. The majesty of these trees is legendary, but as I alluded too in my last blog, its the utter silence underneath these colossal tress that is so impressive. Unforgettable, unbeatable. For some reason I was more impressed with this than the Redwood National Park. Perhaps it was because I was riding a motorbike through them. Open to the elements, and able to see them properly I really think you get a much better feel for the tress on a bike.

NEVER trust tourists to take your picture. But you get the idea, it's big.

This tree was 1600 years old and 360 feet tall. It fell in 1991. Another tree 50 feet away had mud spattered 15 feet up its trunk.It will take over 400 years for this tree to decay.

Avenue of the Giants - breathtaking

Here are a few facts I picked up about redwoods.

  • Redwoods are so immense that they live in three climatic zones, from base to canopy.
  • A large redwood can release up to 500 gallons of water into the air a day.
  • It can take a fallen redwood 400 years to decay into the forest floor.
  • The oldest recorded redwood was 2200 years old.
  • The can grow at least 360 feet (110m) tall

And when I left the avenue the next 200 miles were just wonderful. I'll just post a few pictures to give you an idea of what my Monday was like. I thought the Oregon coast was spectacular. Today certainly equalled that. I rode and rode the road as is rode down the coast. A glorious Californian sun shone on me and things just couldn't have been better. I enjoyed every last minute of the day, so much so that I sort of forgot that it would all have to end at sunset and I would have to find somewhere to sleep.
How was your Monday commute?

So, that was the best of times - Tuesday, however, was to be very different. For two weeks now I've been concerned about the performance of the bike. The front brake has started shuddering which has been, to say the least, worrying. Especially as I've been riding 800 miles of the most fantastic coast roads in the world. Good brakes would be useful! I've asked a few people and looked on the internet and it seems likely that the front brake rotor blades are warped (how I have no idea). This all started last Friday and by Saturday I had decided that I need to go to a BMW dealership. Unfortunately they all shut on Sundays and Mondays so there was very little I could do. I decided to carry on with my route and get it sorted out in San Francisco. So, on Tuesday morning I rang the shop in SF. They were fully booked and couldn't even see me until Thursday. I decided to head 30 miles inland from where I was to go to the Santa Rosa shop. To cut a long story short they were less than helpful and I started looking for an alternative. I started making some calls. I rang Sacramento and Reno, both fully booked for days and days. Finally I got in touch with Chico BMW. They had the parts and could see me that afternoon. I rode the 200 miles north to Chico. Incidentally, there was a heatwave going on on Tuesday, Record temperatures all over California. I rode for over 3 hours in over 100 degree (30 +C) temps. The hottest I have ever ridden in. Strange really, this time last week I was camping in near freezing temps. in Silver City, Idaho. But since then I'd ridden hundreds and hundreds of miles south from 46 to 38 degrees latitude. And now the weather was certainly hotting up.

Anyway, back to Chico. Bad news, it seems the triple clamp was cracked/worn away. (For the uninitiated its the bit that connects the handle bars to the front forks – just below where you put the ignition key.) Having just ridden down all those twisty roads I suppose I should just be grateful that I made it alive. But actually I'm just really annoyed that things keep going wrong with my bike. And it's getting so expensive I'm beginning to think that the domwayround my only make it to Panama. I might not have the funds (or a functioning bike) to make it to Africa. This has been a bit of a shock to the system. I've been on the road for 9 weeks now and having a really great time. So often I've been asked by people what I'm up to and I have got (or is it gotten) so used to saying “I'm riding down to Panama and then shipping to South Africa and heading back to Europe) that its difficult to imagine that I may actually NOT do this. But at some point I'm going to have to seriously look at how much this is costing me. Canada was much more expensive that I thought and although much in the USA is cheap, fixing the bike isn't! But equally importantly I need a fully functioning bike if I'm too tackle Africa. It's OK to have the kind of problems I'm having here in the US, on one level all I have to do is find a dealership and sit it out in a cheap Motel whilst they fix the problem. I just won't be able to do that in Africa (or Central America for that matter.) I hate to think what I would have to do if either of the major problems I've had so far actually happened in the middle of Guatamala or Namibia instead of Montana and California.

This is so frustrating as I was having such a great time. And I'm beginning to doubt myself as I seem to have bought a dud bike. Perhaps it's just the shock of finding another problem and by the time it's fixed and I'm on the road again my mood will change. Anyway, I hope to be on the road a again by Thursday afternoon and am heading inland to the desert region. I'm taking Route 50 across Nevada, It's called “America's Loneliest road” a good place to take an ailing motorbike!

Oh yeah – Chico. Not a great place to be stuck for 48 hours. Sights to see include the “world famous Yo-Yo museum”. And I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with American television. I would really like to watch a serious in-depth news channel. Something that actually analyses what is going on. Americans are getting geared up for mid-term elections in a month but the news is so shallow and bitty and they shout so much. As for the rest of the world – it just doesn't exist. Central America means Kansas City and Mexico is only EVER mentioned if there is a gun fight or a mud slide. No wonder I keep getting told to be very careful when I “go down there”, and two or three times I've been asked if I'm carrying a gun for protection in Mexico.

Having just written this I decided to do something about it and went out to buy a newspaper. The best I could get was USA today. On page 7 there was an article about Obama commenting yesterday on his Christina beliefs. According to a survey 18% of Americans still think Obama is a Muslim, only 34% thought he was a Christian. I shall quote the article and leave you to draw your own conclusions.
“ Obama is the son of a Muslim father from Kenya. His mother was from Kansas. As a boy, he lived for seveal years in predominantly Muslim Indonisia. Some think his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, sounds Muslim.”

There was some foreign news. On the back page in the weather section. Strikingly I also discovered that Chico, California was the hottest place in the USA yesterday, clocking in at 113 degree F (45C). No wonder I was hot and flustered when I got to the BMW dealer.
Am in a better mood today (most of this blog was written yesterday), and have promised myself that when the bike is fixed and I'm on the road I'm just going to enjoy it for however long it lasts. After all I'm on a 2000 mile loop of Nevada, Utah and Arizona before I head back to the Californian coast and Mexico. I've always wanted to go this part of the world and I'm going to love it. In the next two weeks I plan to go to; Nevada desert – Bonneville world finals, Zion NP, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Mesa Verde, four corners, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Sequoia NP, Yosemite NP, Californian coast and Big Sur. If I can't look forward to that I might as well kill myself.

You all have yourselves a good Californian day you hear....

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dom

    Sorry to hear of your tc woes. Have you any BMWMOA / BMW club contacts? There must be cheaper ways of fixing a GS than paying dealer prices!

    A Finemess